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Bilingual education and the law: Effectiveness of bilingual/bicultural program implementation in the Boston Public Schools

Maria R Irizarry, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Most of the studies conducted on bilingual education emphasize current educational problems. Instructional, administrative, fiscal, and political issues have highlighted the development of serious attempts to produce research accounts of the history of bilingual education in the United States. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to find an accurate and global account of the legal struggle that allowed bilingual education to survive years of obstacles, intolerance, and success. Without utilization of recollected information on the legal process across the nation dealing with bilingual educational issues, it is rather difficult to make an objective assessment on the legal status of bilingual education within the educational and legal boundaries. This study focuses on the historical repercussions of the laws, consent decrees, and enactments favoring bilingual education across the country, specifically, the impact of those legislations that, according to the researcher's estimation, went beyond the notion of responding to political pressure. The notion of responding to the educational needs of linguistic minority students and the responsibility to a large constituency that would not understand the bilingual education concept produces the middle-road solution called "bilingual education" to pamper an everlasting educational problem. To explain the present situation of bilingual education, in general, and in Massachusetts, in particular, an historical sequence of the most important events affecting education is covered. An historical legal framework is included to provide a better understanding of the nation's educational view through the law and how cultural diversity has affected the development of education nationally. Major legal cases, as well as other legislation in favor of bilingual education, is explored in detail. After reviewing the history of laws, enactments, and consent decrees, and observing the present situation of bilingual education in this country, one has to conclude that bilingual programs have been programmed for failure. This study will enhance the information base of educators, parents, community activists, and others who need to work with linguistic minority students coming from educational systems that have denied them the right to learn. Furthermore, the intent of this dissertation is to put forth information central to the development of initiatives to aid parents, students, and educators in overcoming obstacles created by unclear bilingual laws and biased to bilingualism politicians or school administrators.

Subject Area

School administration|Curricula|Teaching|Language arts|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Irizarry, Maria R, "Bilingual education and the law: Effectiveness of bilingual/bicultural program implementation in the Boston Public Schools" (1992). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9219449.